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For Micah Parsons, The Time Is Now

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Why Penn State’s freshman phenom will be the one to take the Nittany Lions’ defense to the next level

NCAA Football: Penn State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t take an expert to see why Micah Parsons was one of the most coveted recruits in the country in the 2018 cycle.

Whether it’s his athleticism, his instincts, or the intensity with which he plays, Parsons jumps off the screen as a game-changer from his linebacker position.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound true freshman has already begun to make a name for himself at the college level, leading Penn State in tackles with seven in a 51-6 drubbing of in-state ri-, er, foe Pitt.

As the Nittany Lions continue to sort out a messy, murky situation at the linebacker position in 2018, the time for Parsons to step up and lead the way has come already, far sooner than some fans expected.

Following an ugly first half against the Panthers in which Penn State conceded over over 200 rushing yards, Parsons and fellow freshman Jesse Luketa saw the field much more often, replacing seniors Koa Farmer and Jan Johnson.

In the second half, the Nittany Lions gave up just 34 yards on the ground (-2 in the third quarter) and the play of the freshmen linebackers played no small part in the drastic change.

As Penn State readies for two games in which it’ll be heavily favored, against Kent State and Illinois, the time has never been more apt for Parsons to take over the starting role at weakside linebacker.

Though Farmer has the edge in experience, it’s Parsons in the first two games that has looked more comfortable in diagnosing and snuffing out opponents’ run plays.

The way the Harrisburg, Pa. native flies to the ball is reminiscent of recently graduated safety Marcus Allen.

Allen, however, weighs 25 pounds less than Parsons.

Parsons, who wears the famed No. 11, possesses outstanding athleticism that makes it very easy for fans and pundits alike to draw comparisons to perhaps the best linebacker in program history, LaVar Arrington.

The two are eerily similar in stature as well.

Arrington was listed at at 6-3, 242 in 1999 and, like Parsons, the North Hills native was a standout basketball player in addition to his football plaudits.

In an April interview with PennLive, Arrington said Parsons was the closest thing to himself coming out of high school, adding that he has “unicorn” potential when it comes to the linebacker position.

“Guys who can do what I was able to do and move the way I moved and play the way I played at my size - it’s a real rarity. You got a better chance of seeing a unicorn.” Arrington said.

While Penn State has produced plenty of talent recently on the defensive side of the ball, it’s been since the days of Arrington and Courtney Brown has Penn State had someone with transcendent talent.

That’s what Parsons possesses.

Throughout the off-season, we heard talk about how Parsons was the future.

It’s becoming increasingly evident with each passing week that the future is now.